An engagement is an event to celebrate, so many people throw a party for the newly bethrothed. It's touching for the couple to hear some congratulatory words or sage marriage advice from loved ones and friends at the party. If you're tapped to give a speech in honor of the lovebirds, make it complimentary and keep it short.
Prepare Your Speech
If you're asked to give an impromptu speech, you won't have time to formulate a plan. But if you know you're going to say a few words, ponder what you want to share. Writer Jacquelyn Smith on Forbes.com recommends starting with an anecdote: Perhaps it's about your reaction to hearing the engagement news or a humorous bit about the couple's first date. Next, offer some sage advice -- perhaps it's marriage advice if you happen to be wed. If you don't have any advice to give, borrow from someone more eloquent. For example, philosopher Paul Tillitch said, "The first duty of love is to listen." If you want advice a little more amusing, borrow businessman Thomas Robert Dewar's words: "A husband should tell his wife everything that he is sure she will find out, and before anyone else does." Close with a message of congratulations and best wishes for a stress-free wedding-planning period and happy future.
Keep It Short and Sweet
It's tempting to drone on and on, particularly if you're close with the bride and groom and have a lot to say. However, save your long speech for the more-formal wedding and keep things simple for the engagement party. Aim for your speech to last around 2 minutes maximum. That doesn't give you a lot of time to fit in a lot of words, but it can be a relief if you're not one for public speaking. Don't rush, however, as a too-short speech can seem flippant. Time your speech to make sure it's the appropriate length of time.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Don't wing the speech, as the engagement party is an important event for a betrothed couple. After you've jotted down your notes, practice in front of a friend or family member and ask for their feedback. They can give you an idea if the speech is too short or too long, if any of your jokes are inappropriate or not funny, or if your words sound repetitive. Don't feel the need to memorize the speech, as you can use notes while giving it, but feel comfortable with the pace and outline of it.
Giving the Speech
If public speaking makes you nervous, relax with a glass of sparkling wine -- but don't drink too much, or you might flub the speech entirely. Hold a notecard that lists your main points rather than the full text of the speech. Slow down and articulate your words so everyone can hear and understand you. Try to remain still while you're speaking rather than swaying back and forth. Once you've told your anecdote and given your advice, encourage guests to raise their glasses and cheer to the soon-to-be newlyweds.
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